Australia’s Head of State will next week join City of Newcastle officials, key project stakeholders and esteemed guests in marking the completion of the exterior restoration works to Newcastle City Hall.
His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (RETD), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, and Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley will travel to Newcastle on Friday morning for a civic ceremony, which will include a commemorative plaque unveiling and performances by the Australian Army Band Newcastle, the Marching Koalas youth marching band and the University of Newcastle Choir.
City of Newcastle has invested $20 million in the project, completed in stages under the Newcastle City Hall Conservation Management Plan adopted by Council in 2008, including works to the clock tower and the building’s iconic sandstone façade to preserve this important piece of history for many more years to come.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said it would be an historic moment to welcome Their Excellencies to Newcastle to formally recognise the project’s completion.
“Originally opened in 1929, Newcastle City Hall is a rich part of our City’s history and is one of our most unique and prestigious buildings, setting the scene for many special events such as weddings and school formals, as well as holding the former Council chambers where historic decisions have been made,” Cr Nelmes said.
“In 1977, under the leadership of the City’s first female Lord Mayor Joy Cummings, Newcastle City Hall became the first civic building in Australia to fly the Aboriginal flag, and last month the Torres Strait Islander flag was raised atop City Hall for the first time alongside the Australian, Aboriginal, United Nations, New South Wales, and City of Newcastle flags.
“It is wonderful to join with the Governor-General and Mrs Hurley to celebrate the next milestone in Newcastle City Hall’s history.”
His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley said he was delighted to accept the Lord Mayor’s invitation to officially reopen City Hall.
“It is a pleasure to return to Newcastle after a warm reception in 2018, when myself, as the then Governor of New South Wales, and Linda visited Newcastle City Hall for the Australian Croquet Championships and Inter State Shield,” His Excellency said.
“Congratulations to the City of Newcastle and all organisations involved in the successful refurbishment of this state heritage-listed building, in which the form, detail and appearance of its iconic façade have importantly been retained.”
City of Newcastle worked closely with the NSW Government Architect’s Office and specialist heritage engineers and stonemasons to investigate the façade’s condition and explore repair options.
The project was completed in three stages following a successful early trial restoration to the eastern façade in 2009-2010, which provided critical information for the overall restoration about the original construction methods and techniques.
The ‘yellowblock’ sandstone used in the original construction of City Hall is understood to have originated from a quarry in Sydney’s North Bondi, now closed.
There have been several repairs to the façade over the years, including during the 1980s and structural strengthening of the clock tower following the devastating 1989 Newcastle earthquake, as well as interior refurbishments.
Newcastle City Hall was opened in 1929 and has undergone several interior and exterior refurbishments to preserve its rich history.
City of Newcastle has invested $20 million in the project, which was completed in three stages following a trial area restoration from 2009-2010:
Stage 1: Clock Tower construction – 2014 to 2016
Stage 2: South and East façades construction, including the main balcony, porte cochere and vehicle ramps – 2016 to 2019
Stage 3: North and West façades construction – 2019 to 2021.
The overall scope of works across all stages includes:
Replacement of deteriorated stones that could not be retained
Repair of original stones
Repair of original timber doors
Replacement of exterior lighting
Reconstruction of vehicle ramps
Structural repairs to reinforced concrete floor and roof slabs
Replacement of flagpoles, including installation of two additional poles
Repairs to the clock mechanism and clock faces
Repairs to the copper pyramid and urn atop the tower.
Newcastle City Hall, along with the Civic Theatre, was listed on the State Heritage Register in September 2012.